Procurator Fiscal

The Job and What's Involved

Procurators fiscal are qualified lawyers who are responsible for prosecuting crime in Scotland. They also investigate sudden and suspicious deaths, and conduct fatal accident enquiries.

The work involves:

  • Receiving reports of crime from the police and other agencies.
  • Reviewing evidence and deciding whether or not to prosecute.
  • Preparing cases for court.
  • Taking witness statements.
  • Conducting prosecutions in court.
  • Enquiring into sudden or suspicious deaths or fatal accidents.
  • Attending scenes of crimes.
  • Investigating complaints made against the police.
  • Communicating with the police and other criminal justice agencies.

District procurators fiscal and their deputes prosecute cases in all courts except the High Court of Judiciary. They work closely with Crown Counsel or Advocates Depute.

You would work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You would also be on an 'on call' rota over evenings and weekends.

You would be based in a district office, and also travel around your district to attend court and the scenes of crimes and accidents. You would need to wear a gown when in court.

Salaries for fiscal deputes are between £27,300 and £33,600 a year. Senior staff like area procurators fiscal can earn up to £56,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

You will be employed by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and work in one of the 48 district offices across Scotland, or in the Crown Office. There are around 400 procurators fiscal and deputes in Scotland.

Education and Training

All procurators fiscal are qualified solicitors in the Scottish legal system. To become a solicitor in Scotland, you must complete two stages of training – you must first meet certain academic standards and then pass vocational training.

You can meet the academic standards by gaining one of the following:

4 An LLB degree in Scots law (check with universities for entry requirements), or

A three-year pre-diploma training contract with a Scottish solicitor, followed by passing exams from the Law Society of Scotland.

Once you have satisfied the academic requirements, you must complete the vocational stage of training, which involves:

The 26-week Diploma in Legal Practice (DLP)

A two-year post-diploma training contract with a practising solicitor (this could be through a Legal Traineeship with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service).

See the Law Society of Scotland's website for more details about qualifying as a solicitor.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

If you join the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as a trainee solicitor, you will follow a highly structured training programme. In your first year you will work in the Crown Office in Edinburgh. In your second year, you will work as a procurator fiscal depute in one of the district offices, under guidance from senior colleagues.

COPFS typically offers around 25 two-year Legal Traineeships each year and competition is strong.

You could also join COPFS as a procurator fiscal depute if you are already a qualified solicitor, and shadow experienced staff as you gain experience of prosecutions.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A procurator fiscal needs:

  • Logical and analytical thinking.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Good organisational and time management skills.
  • Excellent written and spoken communication skills.
  • The ability to explain the law clearly and put people at ease.
  • Public speaking ability.
  • The ability to work well under pressure and handle several cases at the same time.
  • Willingness to make decisions that will affect others.

Your Long Term Prospects

There is a well-defined career structure with different grades of procurator fiscal. Competition can be strong for promotion to higher grades.

You may need to move to other areas of Scotland to gain wider experience.

Get Further Information

Skills for Justice, Centre Court,
Atlas Way, Sheffield S4 7QQ

Law Society of Scotland,
26 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7YR
Tel: 0131 226 7411

Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service,
25 Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LA

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